January 10, 2016 (Sunday)

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (C)

Is 42:1-4, 6-7 • Ps 29 • Acts 10:34-38
[or Is 40:1-5, 9-11 • Ps 104 • Ti 2:11-14; 3:4-7]
Lk 3:15-16, 21-22



15The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

21After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened 22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”


All the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, Luke— “synopsis” in Greek means “side-by-side”) narrate that the ministry of Jesus commenced with his baptism at the River Jordan. In this event, the heavens open and proclaim Jesus as the awaited “Son” of the Father. The baptism of Jesus is still part of his “epiphany” or manifestation. Jesus’ epiphany is completed by three major events: (1) the visit of the Magi, that reveals Jesus as Savior of all; (2) the baptism at the Jordan, that reveals Jesus as the “beloved Son” of the Father; (3) the miracle at Cana, that first manifests Jesus’ signs and wonders.

Year C—the liturgical cycle we are in—features Sunday Gospels that come mostly from Luke. Jesus’ baptism, in the account of the third Gospel, has many details parallel to the baptism stories of Mark and Matthew. There are, however, two significant points that make Luke’s narration unique:

1. Luke’s story dramatically highlights Jesus… only Jesus! While Jesus makes his initial appearance in the story as one who lines up for water baptism like the rest, his baptism is poetically referred to as the climax and the last act in the ministry of John the Baptist. Jesus is baptized by John “after all the people had been baptized.” Jesus is the one described by Luke as the real baptizer who will “baptize… with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

2. Luke presents the theophany as a divine answer to the prayer of Jesus. Only Luke speaks about Jesus at prayer during his baptism, and Luke will feature Jesus praying 11 more times during crucial moments of his three-year ministry (cf Lk 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28-29; 10:21; 11:1; 22:32, 41, 44; 23:34, 46). The prayer of Jesus makes the heavens open, and it makes the Holy Spirit descend “in bodily form like a dove.” This makes us realize the essence of Christian prayer—free access to the Father through Jesus, with its greatest fruit being the descent of the Holy Spirit.

True it is that the Ordinary Time of the Church does not celebrate any specific mystery of Jesus. However, we are reminded: big feast or no festival at all, we, the baptized, should continue to journey each day… with our focus on Jesus who is our All, and with our hearts forever in prayer. In this manner, we live in Jesus whom we have just celebrated anew through Advent and Christmas as our “IMMANUEL” (God-with-us).

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